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Every month, Genevieve had intense mood swings and rage. A diagnosis changed her life


Her relationship with her partner also turned a corner. “I don’t feel any rage or hate towards him now,” she says. “We were in a really bad place before, and now we’re engaged and about to be married. It’s a lovely ending.”

Associate Professor Alex Polyakov, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at the University of Melbourne, says many people are unaware that such mood changes may be part of a disorder, and so they suffer in silence. He says that while many have heard of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), they’re less likely to know about the “much more severe” condition PMDD.

This probably relates to how much more common PMS is: Polyakov says PMS affects between 3 and 8 per cent of people who menstruate, while PMDD affects only one in 50.

So how do you know if you have this condition?

Polyakov says the most common symptom is mood swings in the lead-up to your period. “Other frequent symptoms include irritability, anxiety, tension, sadness, depressed mood, sensitivity to rejection and diminished interest in activities,” he says.


Physical symptoms may include abdominal bloating, fatigue, food cravings, headaches and dizziness.

The most common treatment is antidepressants, says Polyakov. Being on the contraceptive pill and skipping periods can also help.

As Genevieve discovered, lifestyle changes involving diet and exercise can also make a difference. “I’ve literally gone from a sad, upset, depressed person before my period to someone who doesn’t even bat an eyelid when my period’s coming,” she says.

Support is available from Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

To read more from Sunday Life magazine, click here.

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